Remembering IIUM’s contributions as we commemorate its 40th anniversary

By Aneesah Ishak

The name International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) or locally known as Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) is not uncommon in Malaysia since it is one of the not many Islamic universities established in Malaysia.

Oblivious, IIUM soon will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary (to be exact in 2023). It is a major milestone for the university and its community since numerous memories, ups, and downs, and challenges that it had gone through during the 40 years of its establishment.

In remembering the setting up of IIUM, we must recall the early history and several goals set by the university that were intended to be achieved by all the communities.

The idea to build IIUM was announced by Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 12 January 1982 after consulting with the education minister, prominent government officials, and senior academics from local universities.

IIUM was officially established on 20 May 1983 by the government of Malaysia and the philosophy behind the establishment was inspired by the outcomes of the 1977 First World Conference on Muslim Education in Makkah. 

Due to this, IIUM has manifested the aspiration of Muslim scholars in Malaysia to have an Islamic university in Malaysia with the idea to lead the Muslim ummah in all branches of knowledge. 

With a total enrolment of 26,000 students according to 2020 data, IIUM was established under the Companies Act of 1965, which allowed it to use English and Arabic as its medium of instruction. 

To further its global orientation, IIUM incorporates Islamic values and worldview into its humanities, scientific, and technical curricula, as befits its university slogan “The Garden of Knowledge and Virtue” that is aligned with the university’s educational goals.

The university has set four goals to be instilled in IIUM’s community to ensure credibility. 

The first educational goal is to nurture students who are balanced and harmonious (Insan Sejahtera), as stated in the National Education Philosophy (Falsafah Pendidikan Negara) which is founded on the principles and therefore is holistically and integrated for long-term success.

Second, to achieve “comprehensive excellence,” create suitable shared learning (culture of Iqra) ecology aimed toward the convergence of knowledge based on the Tawhid.

Third, humanising education by pioneering and investigating instructional leadership (Khalifah) that is most suited in embedding trust (Amanah) to deliver a higher purpose of education (via teaching-learning, responsible research, and community participation) based on values.

The last education goal is to engage in research and innovation that is pertinent to the Maqasid al-Shariah and in attaining the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) that strive to provide mercy to everyone (Rahmatan lil Alamin). 

It is noticeable that IIUM places a strong focus on good character, or Budi, as part of its students’ education, ensuring that they have strong moral principles. This is consistent with Islamic teachings, which place a high value on moral integrity.

Hence, it is highly encouraged for the IIUM community to work in achieving these goals in celebrating the 40th anniversary of its establishment.

IIUM Rector, Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak also once mentioned during his speech at the 36th IIUM convocation that IIUM will be celebrating its 40th anniversary very soon. 

He highlighted that all IIUM communities need to work harder and smarter as the saying goes ‘age starts at 40’. 

In his speech, he gave an example that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) became a game-changer in all senses and not only he changed the surrounding of the Arab community, but to the entire world when he was in his 40s. 

The Rector addressed that being in the university that holds the idea of Rahmatan lil Alamin, we must emulate exactly what our beloved Prophet did, and we need to take up the challenges. 

He suggested that in doing so, we need to work together as a whole.

“The university cannot work alone, we need young energetic, brave, and bright individuals like all of you to join hands in moving this university into the ummatic agenda that we set out 40 years ago,” the Rector said.

Thus, as an IIUM community, let us work harder and unify as a unified community of IIUM to excel and prevail as mentioned in the IIUM’s official song “Leading the Way” that we are the Khalifah and we will fulfil the Amanah. ***

(Aneesah Ishak is a third-year Bachelor of Human Sciences (Communication) student. The article is written as part of the individual assignment series for Corporate Writing class)

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